Win for Humphrey Kariuki as court sets aside bank account freeze orders

Nairobi businessman Humphrey Kariuki in court on August 19, 2019. PHOTO| DZUYA WALTER
Nairobi businessman Humphrey Kariuki in court on August 19, 2019. PHOTO| DZUYA WALTER

Nairobi businessman Humphrey Kariuki was on Monday granted relief after the High Court on Monday quashed orders freezing access to several bank accounts of companies associated with him.

High Court judge Luka Kimaru ruled that the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) over-breached a court order issued by the Kiambu Magistrate court in a Ksh.41 billion tax evasion case against Kariuki.

“The application filed by the Respondents before the Kiambu Chief Magistrate’s Court in Kiambu Chief Magistrate’s Court Miscellaneous Criminal Case No.367 of 2019 is hereby brought to this court for the purposes of revision. The same is revised as it was filed in breach of the law. That application is ordered dismissed,” court ruled.

The court noted that the DCI over breached itself in dealing with tax related matters.

“It is evident that there was an element of jurisdictional overreach by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations on matters which are statutorily under the jurisdiction of the Asset Recovery Authority and the Kenya Revenue Authority,” added the judge.

While noting that there was over breach by the DCI, the judge said that the application sought before the Kiambu magistrate did not seek an order to freeze the accounts in question, but the orders sought were to investigate so as to establish whether there was an offence.

The court also upheld an order directing the unfreezing of several bank accounts of firms associated with Kariuki.

The court further ruled that the Director of Criminal Investigations and the DPP can’t seek to benefit from a legality and claim to have been acting in public interest.

Judge Kimaru noted that the order to freeze the bank accounts was obtained illegally since it was never sought in the application lodged by the Director of Public Prosecution and the DCI.

The court ruled that Africa Spirits Limited, which was represented by a team of lawyers led by Cecil Miller had proven that other firms associated with Kariuki whose accounts were illegally frozen were never served with the order as required.

He went ahead to uphold the order to keep the accounts accessible.

It was ruled that the companies were never given a fair hearing when the DCI moved to court, adding that the DPP and DCI were to serve the parties but the same was never done.

“That was in clear breach to the fair trial provisions of the Constitution specifically Article 50(2) that requires them to be informed of any adverse action that may be taken against them,” the court ruled.

Last month, the DPP obtained orders freezing accounts of businessman Humphrey Kariuki, arguing that they required access to the said bank accounts to facilitate investigations into the commission of the offences of failure to pay tax.

The businessman then filed a case challenging the same on grounds that the orders issued by the trial magistrate were illegal and improper since the same were awarded ex-parte.

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Story By Dzuya Walter
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